The Fairfax Youth Initiative (FYI) presents its very first festival of films written by local young people in a free event open to all ages at Swan Hill Town PACC on Saturday, 28 May.
The festival includes 18 short films featuring young people aged 13-19 from Swan Hill, Wycheproof, Sea Lake, Lalbert, Nyah, Tooleybuc, Red Cliffs, and Mildura.
Originally, these stories were developed and performed as part of the FYI online storytelling mentorship in 2021, where participants engaged in months of writing, workshops, rehearsal, and open-mic performance nights throughout the pandemic via Zoom.
Then in February 2022, FYI professionally produced these stories involving over 50 young people and their local communities to present ‘The Stories That Make Us’ – an entire festival of short films, filmed in 10 days, across 8 towns in the Murray Mallee. Young people have been involved in every step of the filmmaking process, from writing, acting, and composition, to roles as crew members and background extras.
Inspired by live storytelling events like The Moth, the FYI Film Festival captures the storytellers telling their stories in real-time from their hometown.
“These films are totally unique,” says Chelsea Zeller, Artistic Director of Fairfax Youth Initiative. “The storytellers break down the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience. So each story feels really personal. Many of the stories are funny and absurd, others are complex and poignant – all of them are relatable. The whole showcase is a celebration of what it means to be a young person living in the Murray Mallee today.”
The festival’s program includes 15 direct-to-camera performances filmed on location, from the banks of the Murray to the Tooleybuc footy oval, to the top of Mount Wycheproof and the Sea Lake silos, to the stage of the Swan Hill Theatre Group.
The festival also features 3 documentary short films. A heartwarming documentary about family, tradition, and Sauce Day, told through the eyes of young Mildura writer Jackson Ietto-Richards.
A quirky documentary ‘Happy Birthday, I Got You a Fish’ – which chronicles Nell Banks-Purcell and Eva Berry as they debut their absurdist comedy play with the Red Cliffs players in August 2021.
A short film written by Samantha Mullan about the closure of the beloved Lalbert primary school, and her new beginnings through an unlikely friendship.
This is FYI’s first in-person event open to the public since 2019, and they are thrilled to be back at the Swan Hill Town Hall. The venue will transform for the evening – with live music and local food trucks outside the Town Hall from 4:30pm. The screening will commence inside the auditorium at 6:00pm in an intimate cinema experience, with a candy bar and live performance by Kerang local Deaken Fawcett at intermission.
Chelsea says that following the festival, FYI has got big aspirations, and is hoping for this unique style of storytelling through film to reach a national audience via streaming.
“We want to provide a platform where rural young people feel safe and supported to say what they want to say, share how they see the world, and find connection with each other.”
The FYI Film Festival is free for all to attend – bookings are essential on the Swan Hill Town Hall website.
When: 28th May 4:30pm – 7:30pm
Where: Swan Hill Town Hall PACC
Who: All ages
Cost: This is a free community event. All are welcome, but bookings are essential.
The Fairfax Youth Initiative is proudly supported by the Swan Hill Rural City Council.